German Railways in the East

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Der Alte Fritz
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 16 Mar 2014 17:08

I forgot to say, welcome to the military railway circle! A small but select band of off beat enthusiasts!
But that was not thanks to major breakthroughs made in steam technology, but rather thanks to infrastructure improvements as explained by you above - i.e. as the Soviet Union industrialized from the late 1920s and on, needs (particularly transporting coal) increased, and the railroads were expanded as a result.
You are right to a large extent, these bigger, heavier more powerful locomotives were not the result of some breakthrough in technology, rather they relied upon improvements in track strength to support their bulk. The USA which had always built extremely strong track used heavier more powerful locomotives than in Europe for pulling vast trains even by the 1920s. But what you do see, (and is illustrated quite well by the Soviet E class,) is the maturing of existing technology and designs to squeeze extra performance out of them. There are various design options and as time went on the designers were able to figure out the best balance of these various ones to get the best performance. The E class over its history increases its tractive effort by 35% with minor increases in weight and equipment. As locomotives increase in size and power, you have to start introducing more advanced equipment, feed water heaters, mechanical stokers, forced draught boilers, etc. so they become more complex. Certainly one of the features of German locomotives operating in Russia suffered with this advanced equipment, because it failed in the low temperatures of the winter.

The German attitude to their railways in a crucial factor in their performance during the Second World War. Under the Weimar Republic, the great civil service with its public service ethos that was the Deutches Reichsbahn, received pretty generous funding and spent that money on track improvement and on rolling stock. But that situation changed with the rise of the Nazis in 1933, and their attitude is important. The DRB was not seen as a 'Nazi' organisation, it lacked political clout, even though its head was Transport Minister. It started losing market share especially in the short haul business to lorry companies and its response by setting up its own shipping companies such as Schenker was not as effective as it still had to stick to the pricing arrangements as laid down by the government as part of its public carrier commitment. At the same time, it had to spend its reserves on building the autobahns and helping motorise Germany. Certainly a key Nazi theme is the motorisation of German society, railways were old fashioned. One gets the idea that the good old DRB was just expected to provide whatever was needed to society and the military and no real attention was paid to how that would have to happen. It was left out of military and strategic planning, until the DRB said that it could not deliver what everyone wanted, in the instance of the planning for Barbarossa. The picture I have in my mind is of a Cinderella service.

I think one has to understand these underlying causes before looking at events. In the USA the big driver for the 1920s right through to the 1970s was labour costs, so you see rapid US mechanisation of the railways to drive these down. This is not a factor in Germany, where a Civil Service type attitude prevails. That is both a help under the Weimar Republic as public money comes into the DRB and a hindrance under the Nazis who exploit similar Civil Services or subborn them for their own ends. Examples are the Police, the Railways and the Civil Service among others.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 17 Mar 2014 03:21

Soviet class E locomotive built in Germany (Krupp).
Krupp im Dienste 1940.jpg
Soviet class E built in Sweden (Nydqvist & Holm AB).
Popular Mechanics 1922.jpg
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 17 Mar 2014 04:07

Soviet Class E producers in Sweden and Germany.
Soviet Class E.jpg
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 18 Mar 2014 07:42

Greg
I am i two minds as to whether to try to pursue the Eisenbahntruppe troop disposition for 1941-44 through the use of the NARA material - what do you think?
The original intention was to get an idea of German troop numbers involved in railways for the Battle of Stalingrad and compare them to the Soviet ones, so perhaps we should start there.

These maps show the Railway Brigades deployed for the Stalingrad Battle:

Image

Image

Image
Art: I would say that brigades 5 and 13 operated behind the Voronezh Front, which leaves 4 brigades (13, 15, 27, 46) in the Stalingrad sector proper.
Organisation of Soviet Railway Brigade:
Railway Bde (translated).jpg
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 18 Mar 2014 08:28

So in the Stalingrad area we have on the German side (to date and pretty inaccurate)

EB Pioniere Regt 6 controlling an unknown number of EB pioneer companies, construction companies and bridge companies (6-10,000 men?) plus
FEDko 3 which controlled from Kharkov down to Stalingrad (FEDko5 controlled the Caucaus area up to the southern side of Stalingrad)
which from Pottgeisser had 2,500km of track, 58,400 men of whom 10,300 were Germans running 440 locomotives.

We need to bear in mind the problems we had before with the various sources as seen in post Nr.124 http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 0#p1853500

On the Soviet side we have to date
4 Railway Brigades or 24,000 troops plus an unknown number of UUV units from the NKPS.

The Germans have a major reconstruction effort on the largely destroyed track and bridges in the area. The earlier map I posted showing the number of damaged bridges in the area by November shows the scale of the task.
But things were not easy for the Soviets either. The Germans controlled the main railways into Stalingrad, the Soviets had no direct line, the ones they did control in the north needed to be expanded in capacity and new line needed to be laid on the west bank to connect the main line from Astrakhan to Saratov with the city ferry.

But an initial feeling is that the Soviets are devoting more resources to their problems than the Germans.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 18 Mar 2014 11:18

I have locations of Soviet Railway Brigades from June 42 to March 43. They moved around, but not too much.
Will try to put some maps together. From what I can see so far, there was also 47 Railway Brigade in the area.
They seem to move around also in response to German bombing of important trunks and junctions.
Also found some Luftwaffe reports of what was bombed and when in August-September 42.
Lot's of reading!
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Dann Falk » 18 Mar 2014 15:31

Der Alte Fritz...several of the Images you posted did not display for some reason.

Der Alte Fritz ...I would very much like to see/read about German air attacks upon Soviet RR lines/centers. July - Sept 42 would be great if you have them. I was only able to fine scattered info about these attacks. What I did find was mostly related to isolating the Voronezh battlefield.
Blocking Russian forces moving towards the Voronezh battlefield, bombing rail junctions at Voronezh, Michurinsk, Svoboda, and Valuki. Also on July 9 42, attacking Yeltes, Tambov, and Povorino to further isolate the battlefield.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by recidivist » 18 Mar 2014 16:17

Der Alte Fritz wrote:I forgot to say, welcome to the military railway circle! A small but select band of off beat enthusiasts!
Thank you. This area of history has held my interest for some time now. It seems I have found the right place to indulge in it.
But that was not thanks to major breakthroughs made in steam technology, but rather thanks to infrastructure improvements as explained by you above - i.e. as the Soviet Union industrialized from the late 1920s and on, needs (particularly transporting coal) increased, and the railroads were expanded as a result.
...
But what you do see, (and is illustrated quite well by the Soviet E class,) is the maturing of existing technology and designs to squeeze extra performance out of them. There are various design options and as time went on the designers were able to figure out the best balance of these various ones to get the best performance. The E class over its history increases its tractive effort by 35% with minor increases in weight and equipment. As locomotives increase in size and power, you have to start introducing more advanced equipment, feed water heaters, mechanical stokers, forced draught boilers, etc. so they become more complex...
Yes, true, but that is just a matter of improving performance within a well-established framework, rather than developing cutting-edge technology. If the Soviet E class had been at the forefront of technological development, it would not have been possible to outsource construction of it to many different manufacturers in several different countries, for example.

As relative late comers among industrialized nations, the Soviets could have opted for electrifying their rail lines, for example - that would probably have been feasible in the 1920s, and definitely in the 1930s. Instead, they decided to stay with tried-and-tested steam technology, probably not least because the rapid industrialization of the USSR was the prime force behind the expansion of their rail network, and, at least initially, that was mainly about trucking coal and steel around, sometimes over very long distances.
Certainly one of the features of German locomotives operating in Russia suffered with this advanced equipment, because it failed in the low temperatures of the winter.
But that is just the irony of it. Complex technology - superheaters are a good example - was often not worth the effort because the extra maintenance and potential unreliability did not pay off proportionally in increased performance. You can speculate why the Germans had not anticpated bad weather and low temperatures - especially with their WW1 experience relatively fresh in memory, and there ought to have been some know-how about Soviet conditions with German industry - but I would think that mainly comes down to that Barbarossa was not intended to last very long, and everything that could take the Axis armies across the 1941-1942 Winter had to be improvised on the spot.
The German attitude to their railways in a crucial factor in their performance during the Second World War. Under the Weimar Republic, the great civil service with its public service ethos that was the Deutches Reichsbahn, received pretty generous funding and spent that money on track improvement and on rolling stock. But that situation changed with the rise of the Nazis in 1933, and their attitude is important. The DRB was not seen as a 'Nazi' organisation, it lacked political clout, even though its head was Transport Minister.
I agree up to a point - although I don't know how much (or how little) the DRB was Nazified compared to other government organisations such as, for example, the mail services, the schools or, more pertinently, the army. The DRB title was certainly a Nazi invention; pre-1937 it went under the name DRG, but maybe the service never got as Nazified as the German leadership wanted.

In moral terms, the DRB probably comes out with a much cleaner slate than eg. the army and the police, although the transports of victims to death camps are damning in that regard. I seem to recall Mierzejewski offering examples of DRB employees who refused to participate in transports to death camps. They were simply given new postings elsewhere in the DRB organisation and otherwise suffered no effects. Perhaps that illustrates a not very Nazified service.
...Certainly a key Nazi theme is the motorisation of German society, railways were old fashioned. One gets the idea that the good old DRB was just expected to provide whatever was needed to society and the military and no real attention was paid to how that would have to happen. It was left out of military and strategic planning, until the DRB said that it could not deliver what everyone wanted, in the instance of the planning for Barbarossa...
The DRB must have been part of military planning on some level - at least relating to mobilization in 1939 - and overall, some acknowledgement of the German railroads' very good service record in WW1 would have remained? I don't know if there were any restrictions on the military use of railroads under the Versailles Treaty, but if we can assume that there weren't, I guess that can be a reason why the DRG/DRB was treated like a 'Cinderella service' as you say - just expected to stand and deliver what was asked of it for as little investment as could be gotten away with.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by recidivist » 18 Mar 2014 16:23

GregSingh wrote:Soviet Class E producers in Sweden and Germany.]
Good info, thanks for posting it. Do you know how the Soviets paid for the locomotives that they had built in Germany and Sweden? Gold, coal or barter? Lack of foreign currency must have been a problem also back then?

Sweden was switching to electricification of some of the main lines in the early 1930s - some 10 or so years after the E type engines were built at Nohab in Trollhättan.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 18 Mar 2014 22:49

According to Soviet magazine from 1922, Sweden was paid 200 million in gold bullion to make 1000 locomotives in 5 years. Because Nydqvist & Holm AB capacity was 40-50 locomotives a year, that money was also used to expand the factory. At the end only 500 was built and Sweden kept the gold.
Deal was criticized in that article, that's how we know about details. Apparently Trotsky was behind it, as he headed the People’s Commissariat of Communications at that time. Response from Lenin was to shut magazine down.
Couldn't find anything new from Sweden sources. They just repeat Soviet's story.

Not sure about arrangement with Germany.
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 19 Mar 2014 11:03

Railway during Battle of Stalingrad.gif
Railway work for battle of Volga.gif
Enemy air raids on Urals Ryzan railway July 1942.gif
GregSingh wrote:I have locations of Soviet Railway Brigades from June 42 to March 43. They moved around, but not too much.
Will try to put some maps together. From what I can see so far, there was also 47 Railway Brigade in the area.
They seem to move around also in response to German bombing of important trunks and junctions.
Also found some Luftwaffe reports of what was bombed and when in August-September 42.
Lot's of reading!
That is brilliant Greg, please bear in mind that we need to track down the UUV units as well as far as possible and another good indicator is the locomotive columns as tracking motive power gives a good indication of heavy traffic usage.
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 20 Mar 2014 08:12

There is a very good account in the Westwood book mentioned above which I would be happy to post here if people are interested.

Electrification of the USSR was a key goal of the Party from 1920 and was supported by the personal statements of Lenin. This saw the establishment of the GOELRO to oversee the project. They set the target in 1920 of 3,860km of electric railway within 10-15 years. The first railway appeared in 1926 run by the local authority for Baku to service the oil industry and then the NKPS started in 1927 with a commuter line to the north of Moscow. However progress was slow due to number of factors:
Purges of key staff from 1930 onwards
Lack of technical ability - Soviet motors burnt out because they were insulated by cotton
Lack of suitable track - the sand ballast helped destroy the motors just as quickly as the poor insulation
High capital cost - at a time when the NKPS was being urged to make huge increases in capacity with little extra capital expenditure, the high cost of track building or upgrade could not be mustered. The "hidden reserves" referred to by Kaganovich were in steam power not in electric.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 21 Mar 2014 11:09

There are two other items to discuss from "recidivist" post above

1) Influence of the Nazi Party in the DRB and changes during the war

2) Role of the DRB in Military Planning for military operations.

I feel a lot safer on the second point. It is clear from books such as "Hitler's Trains" that the DRB was under the military control of the Transportation Department under Gen Gercke which in turn was part of the General Staff OKH. In this respect, as far as planning of operations or policy, the work was done by Gercke on behalf of other OKH Departments/sections. He in turn would deal with the RVM Minister and DRB management which was represented by a special operations unit called Group L. So a number of examples shows that the DRB did not really want to get involved in this aspect of military operations as it saw its role as the support of the population and the economy. So much so that in the early years Gercke thought the DRB management 'obstructive'.

This is a weak chain of command, in the early war years OKH Operations Department and the Chief of Staff were the chief planners though as the war progressed this moved more over to Hitler and the OKW.

If we look at Gercke career:
He was promoted on 1 October 1937 to Colonel , and from 12 October Gercke served as division chief of the General Staff of the Army . On 26 August 1939, he was appointed Wehrmacht and army transport chief at the Army High Command, and by the beginning of the Second World War, his promotion to Major General . By transforming his department Gercke was from 15 January 1940 head of the field transport. As such, followed later in the war, his promotion to lieutenant general on 1 August 1940 and to General of Infantry on 19 April 1942.
Transportation Department was quite a small department, it was headed by an officer who was a Colonel/Major General and who stayed in his job for the entire war period 1937-1945. This was not a plum staff posting, the department actually lost influence as it was promoted to an OKW Department responsible for all rail transport for the Heer, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. It was limited to railways (trucks came under the Quarter Master General's Supply Department) and seen as a Rear Area unit. Gercke losses argument after argument, Hitler chooses Panzers over Locomotives in Spring 1941, the QMG Marckes takes over the long range transport role in Russia with his Grosstransportraum and Gercke cannot even get the Transportation Department included in co-coordinating the long range supply movements.

So the Hitler - OKW - Transportation Department - Group L (RVM) - DRB route sees little planning and co-ordination. The other route that this may have come down to the DRB is through the RVM and the 4 Year Plan. But again it is clear that the DRB was not included in the FYP, did not get steel allocations, took best part of three years before Dorpmuller realised that steel allocations and not finance were the new way of rationing the economy. This is the reason behind the increasing backlog of repair work, slowing of track renewals and lack of new rolling stock in the pre-war years.

So my conclusion is that Dorpmuller and the DRB were only included in the war planning on a need to know business and they were simply left to run the economy very much in the dark about future intentions of the Nazi regime. This fits neatly with the RVM decision to set up new railway companies for each of the occupied territories, with the intention being to isolate the DRB/German network from future liabilities in conquered areas such as the Government General - because they had no idea what those future liabilities were.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by recidivist » 21 Mar 2014 16:57

Thanks for your answers. I admit to being a little off-topic in my replies below, sorry.
Der Alte Fritz wrote:...This is a weak chain of command, in the early war years OKH Operations Department and the Chief of Staff were the chief planners though as the war progressed this moved more over to Hitler and the OKW.
Right, but this arrangement still kept the DRB and its resources close to the general staff where decisions were made. I suspect that the situation in other countries participating in WW2 was not all that different, with the Soviets as a possible exception?
If we look at Gercke career (...)Transportation Department was quite a small department, it was headed by an officer who was a Colonel/Major General and who stayed in his job for the entire war period 1937-1945. This was not a plum staff posting, the department actually lost influence as it was promoted to an OKW Department responsible for all rail transport for the Heer, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine.
Are you sure that all rail transport fell under Gercke's department after it was moved to the OKW? I am reasonably sure that the (admittedly very limited) German rail effort in North Africa was run under OKH control (at least the diesel shunters sent there had 'OKH' written on their sides http://www.rangierdiesel.de/index.php?n ... 183&lang=1), and I think the rail effort in Italy post-September 1943 was an OKH thing too? But that is of course a little outside the purview of this thread.
It was limited to railways (trucks came under the Quarter Master General's Supply Department) and seen as a Rear Area unit. Gercke losses argument after argument, Hitler chooses Panzers over Locomotives in Spring 1941, the QMG Marckes takes over the long range transport role in Russia with his Grosstransportraum and Gercke cannot even get the Transportation Department included in co-coordinating the long range supply movements.
The administrative arrangements were poor, but I think that applies to many institutions run by Germany in the 1933-1945 period. I.e. some occupied countries were run by the foreign ministry, others as personal Nazi party fiefdoms, others by the OKH, and still others by the SS. Just as many generals lost many arguments with Hitler, and were frequently sacked over it.
So the Hitler - OKW - Transportation Department - Group L (RVM) - DRB route sees little planning and co-ordination. The other route that this may have come down to the DRB is through the RVM and the 4 Year Plan. But again it is clear that the DRB was not included in the FYP, did not get steel allocations, took best part of three years before Dorpmuller realised that steel allocations and not finance were the new way of rationing the economy. This is the reason behind the increasing backlog of repair work, slowing of track renewals and lack of new rolling stock in the pre-war years.
Agreed, steel allocations are a indicator of the relative significance (or insignificance) of the DRB in the German economy. Still, there were many parts of the 4YP that remained white elephants, so the DRB was not alone in that regard. The later crash program to build BR52 war locomotives under Speer's control I guess was allocated steel from elsewhere in the DRB's allotments?
So my conclusion is that Dorpmuller and the DRB were only included in the war planning on a need to know business and they were simply left to run the economy very much in the dark about future intentions of the Nazi regime. This fits neatly with the RVM decision to set up new railway companies for each of the occupied territories, with the intention being to isolate the DRB/German network from future liabilities in conquered areas such as the Government General - because they had no idea what those future liabilities were.
I agree, but you could also to varying degress say the same about other institutions in the 3rd Reich - for example, it was not just the railroad transportation organisations which varied from one occupied territory to the next, it was also the method of rule itself.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by recidivist » 21 Mar 2014 17:10

GregSingh wrote:According to Soviet magazine from 1922, Sweden was paid 200 million in gold bullion to make 1000 locomotives in 5 years. Because Nydqvist & Holm AB capacity was 40-50 locomotives a year, that money was also used to expand the factory. At the end only 500 was built and Sweden kept the gold.
Deal was criticized in that article, that's how we know about details. Apparently Trotsky was behind it, as he headed the People’s Commissariat of Communications at that time. Response from Lenin was to shut magazine down.
Couldn't find anything new from Sweden sources. They just repeat Soviet's story.
Thank you - a bad deal exposed by the Soviet free press, that probably would not have happened in Stalin's day 8-) I guess the Soviets would not have had to rely on foreign locomotive production already from the late 1920s.

Not sure about arrangement with Germany.[/quote]

The German part of the E type locomotive order is spread out over many manufacturers, so I would guess that there was government involvement on the German side too. It is not all that surprising that the Soviets would have ordered train engines in Germany in the 1920s - the Weimar Republic and the USSR were quite isolated in the rest of the World, but were cooperating mutually on several levels.

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